Contributed by Junta Naito & Gabriela Von Euw Photos by Gabriela Von Euw, Toby Rosenblum, & Yukimi Tateno
On Friday, May 3rd, CARP Bay Area held an on-campus event titled Peace Starts With Me gathering an audience of over 80 participants consisting of students, faculty, and community members from the Bay Area. The event was held at Chabot Community College, and the keynote was given by Dr. Sandra Lowen, LCSW, on “Reconciliation and Healing Our Communities.”
Despite all of the challenges in creating this event, through the CARP Chabot Officers’ investment and the support of the greater CARP Bay Area community including mentors, parents, and community members, we created an inspirational experience for those who attended.
Each day leading up to the event, students passed out flyers to share about the event and invite fellow students, professors, and other clubs to attend. They also made preparations for decorations, room layout, performances, the tech and sound equipment, catering, etc. Because of their efforts, some professors offered extra credit for students to attend. It was CARP Bay Area’s first Peace Starts With Me event held on campus, and it was a great success!
After dinner and an ice breaker, the program started with entertainment. The first performance was a traditional Japanese folk dance by parent volunteers, composed of circular, elegant movements and colorful traditional clothing. The dance exuded both a wonderful expression of the Japanese culture and a warm sense of peace. Following the dance, Sasha Durst, Amaris Durst, and Gerlyn Quilates sang “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, a song about making a change by starting with oneself.
Following that, the MC and CARP Chabot’s club president, Junta Naito, introduced CARP. He emphasized that although students go to college to study many things in relation to their career, they should also be studying the principles of heart and character. Therefore, CARP highlights the education of the heart. As Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
After his introduction, Junta welcomed up keynote speaker, Dr. Sandra Lowen, who shared about the need within our communities for an experience of healing. She shared examples of conflict and suffering throughout United States’ history, trickling down to the day-to-day difficulties we face in our jobs, families, and within ourselves.
While acknowledging this reality, she challenged participants to be the catalyst to reverse this cycle by leading with peace in their own lives. As a representative of the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), Dr. Lowen also commended numerous exceptional women leaders throughout history who contributed to moving their communities towards peace:
“How does peace begin with me? First and foremost, find inner peace. Know who you are, what triggers you, what delights you, and what you want in life. Set your goals, figure out what you need, anticipate the possible hurdles you are going to overcome, and set out to be the best you possible. Be ready to discover the greatness of those around you. Look at people with new eyes. What can you do to make your community better?
“Some of the Women’s Federation ladies have taken some of their old handbags and fill them up with things. Like maybe a pair of earrings, bracelet, nice sock, a scarf, something pretty that a lady not of the best means might not be able to afford. #handbag. Somewhere in you is a hashtag. You just have to figure out where it is.
“What is your conduit for making peace? It’s doing random acts of kindness you can do every day. The smile you give the bus driver, the phone call you make to a friend, the listening ear you give to a coworker going through a hard time. You don’t need a cape, you don’t need a mask, or a big letter on your chest, all you need, all any of us needs is to be able to look up one day and discover that the kingdom of peace, heaven on earth, the ideal world of love and righteousness that we have so longed for has already dawned around us. All anyone needs to experience that is a heart.”
To conclude her talk, she asked the audience to raise their hands and recite in unison: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!” For many participants, Dr. Sandra Lowen’s message was their highlight.
At the end, CARP presented several awards and gifts of appreciation to recognize peacemakers in their community. Two student clubs from Chabot College, Revolutionaries Advocating for a Greener Ecosystems (RAGE) and Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society (AGS), were each presented with Outstanding Service Awards for their clubs’ contributions to create peace in their communities through environmental efficiency and service on campus.
We also wanted to show appreciation for our CARP Advisor, Professor Ukudeeva, and to Student Life Faculty representative, Linda Emanuele, for supporting CARP. We presented Dr. Sandra Lowen and her husband, John Lowen, with CARP Bay Area T-shirts for coming to the Bay Area to share a message of peace and reconciliation at our event and for their support!
As a finale for the event we had two performances: the Chabot Ukulele club and CARP club performing “Stand By Me” and “Edelweiss” and young people dancing Mujogeon (Unconditional), dance of unconditional love for God.
“What I learned about ‘Peace Starts With Me’ is to empower women to take a step out of their comfort zone and to strive to be someone better them themselves.” - Nelly S.
“I love the part where she talked about every day we are meant make big changes in life that affect other people in society that benefit other people in society.” - Elsie K.
“[My takeaway was] that I control integrating peace into my life and I can help others by doing the same. Also I need to remember and keep in my mind how far we’ve come in history, to make a change, remind myself it’s time for a positive change to happen in the world.” - Gerlyn Q.
“My takeaway from Dr. Lowen’s talk was when she mentioned that all those significant women in history were born ordinary but ended up doing something amazing for justice and peace. It made me understand that even though I am ordinary, I am capable of extraordinary things just like those women in history.” - Hanami T.
“Peace is possible.” - Monica Q.
“It takes small action steps and passion to help ignite peace in this world .” - Sonomi N.
“Self awareness begins with yourself and within the family.” - Samantha D.